The Schipperke, is a small breed of dog originating in Belgium in the early 16th century. The breeds name of “Schipperke” was thought to have meant “little boatman” in English speaking nations. While they were occasionally seen on barges, it was not their primary function. In the areas of Leuvan and Brussels “shcipper” was the word for shepherd, translating the name into “little shepherd”. Their history dates to a black shepherd dog commonly called the Leuvenaar from the 17th century. It was a 40 pound dog often found in the Louvain region of Belgium and was used to guard flocks and transport. These doga re apparently the foundation breed for both the modern, and smaller Skipperke, as well as the modern, larger Black Belgian Shepherd Dog (aka the Groenendael).
Dogs of the Schipperke breed usually weigh 7-20 pounds, and the males usually stand 13.2 inches tall, with the females standing 12.3 inches tall. The dog is square in its profile and possesses a distinctive coat. The skull is of medium width, and will narrow towards the muzzle. The skull is slightly rounded, and the length of the muzzle is slightly less than the length of the skull. His eyes are small and oval, dark brown, and placed forwards on the head. His ears are small and triangular in shape, placed high on the head, and are very erect when at attention. The tail is docked. The Schipperkes are double coated. The undercoat is soft and fluffy, and is covered by the harsher feeling and longer outer coat. A breed characteristic is the long ruff that surrounds the neck, and then a strip trails down towards the rear of the dog. The color of the coats are black or blonde, and the coat is shiny.
Because of this breeds stubborn, mischievous, and head-strong temperament, it will chase small animals, and they are sometimes referred to as the “little black fox”, the “little black devil”, or the “Tasmanian Black Devil”. They require ample exercise and supervision as they are naturally curious and high-energy dogs. They are very smart and independent. Because of this they will sometimes debate listening to their owners and will instead choose to do whatever benefits them the most. He is however, very devoted and loyal especially with children. They are typically good with other dogs and cats as well. Some may be difficult to housetrain, and early socialization will help keep them from becoming wary and aloof of strangers.
This breed is a relatively healthy breed and the median lifespan of the dog is about 13 years old. This breed is prone to luxating patella, Legg-Perthes syndrome, epilepsy, and MPS IIIB (Sanfilippo syndrome, or mucopolysaccharidosis III), a genetic mutation that occurs in at most 15% of the total breed population. It only occurs in Schipperkes.